Recently, before the health care vote in the House, I said the Massachusetts health care initiative of 2006, led by then-Gov. Mitt Romney, was the pilot program for Obamacare. I made clear that there’s an economic tsunami called Obamacare off in the distance and the American people are standing on the beach.
I was pilloried for my statements from both the left and the right.
Fast forward to March 22, when, according to Politico, “White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the health care overhaul passed by the House [March 21] was similar to the state-based reform plan enacted in Massachusetts in 2006.”
Despite our warnings about the damage done by Romneycare, the president and congressional Democrats ignored the will of the American people and passed the bill anyway. Now we must send a message to Congress loud and clear: Repeal and replace Obamacare.
There can no longer be any doubt that Romneycare was the model for Obamacare. That fact should be of grave concern to every American.
As Massachusetts treasurer, I have consistently voiced my concern about the affordability of Romneycare. No other program in our state has grown faster. Romneycare has ripped a gaping hole in the commonwealth’s budget and caused deep cuts to essential services like police, fire and education. Worse yet, it has placed a crushing burden on small businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy.
When universal coverage was sold to voters in 2006, they were told that it would cost about $88 million each year. What they were not told was the true cost of being taken care of. Consider: Massachusetts had only 7 percent uninsured when Romneycare was implemented in 2006.
The cost to cover a mere 4 percent more (or about 400,000 people) was more than $4 billion.
Now imagine the cost when the federal government tries to implement a similar plan in a place like California, with 20 percent uninsured.
I want every American to be able to access quality, affordable health care. But before that happens, we have to get serious about embracing fundamental reforms in the way basic health care service is delivered.
The only reason Romneycare has survived at all is that we have been propped up by the federal government over and over again. But this begs the question of who will bail out the federal government when Obamacare goes into effect.
There is still time to repeal and replace this bill before it’s implemented. That’s exactly what we have to do — before it’s too late.
Tim Cahill is treasurer of Massachusetts and a former Democrat. He’s running for governor as an independent.